Bank of Edwardsville staff members at the new Fairmont City bilingual banking center.
FAIRMONT CITY – The Bank of Edwardsville introduced the first full-service, fully bilingual banking center in the St. Louis metro area on Thursday, Nov. 19, with the grand opening ceremony of its Fairmont City Center, inside the Fairmont City Library at 2870 N. 44th St.
“Today is an exciting day for everyone at the Bank of Edwardsville,” said Rob Schwartz, senior vice president of retail banking. “This is a culmination of a great deal of hard work by a core group of people at our bank, and also the beginning of a remarkable partnership with the Fairmont City Library.”
The bank began developing a plan to reach the growing Hispanic population — a market historically underserved by the financial industry — in the St. Louis metro area more than two years ago. After more than a year of planning and developing products and services specifically catering to the needs of the Hispanic population, and hiring a full team of bilingual bankers fluent in Spanish and English, the bank and the Mississippi Valley District Library Board, which oversees the Fairmont City Library, worked together to come to an agreement to locate the new banking center in the library, which has developed into the hub of activity for the Fairmont City community.
“As we worked with the library board to work out an arrangement that would benefit all parties involved, it became clear that the Fairmont City Library plays a huge role in making this community a great place to live, to raise children and to do business,” Schwartz said. “With the bank focus on financial education, offering products that encourage home ownership and financial independence, and with our history of community involvement, this is truly a perfect fit for us.”
Guest speaker Karlos Ramirez, executive director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis, said the bank’s willingness to cater to the fast-growing Hispanic population puts it at the forefront in the financial community.
“I’ve always told the banking members of our chamber that whichever bank figures out how to work with the Hispanic population, which is the most untapped population, will win the game,” Ramirez said. “In reality, the Hispanic population is the fastest-growing population in the St. Louis area. So when you become a bank that has people that look like me and that can speak like me, it makes it a lot easier and more comfortable to go and bank there, particularly in such a safe community place like this library.”
Guest speaker Vin Ko, program manager of the St. Louis Mosaic Project, a regional initiative which has the goal of making the St. Louis metro area the fastest-growing region in terms of immigration by the year 2020, said the bank opening a center in a largely Hispanic community will help his organization reach that goal.
“This is all about attracting people and retaining people. And it’s about building welcoming communities in our area,” Ko said. “A commitment like the Bank of Edwardsville has made in the Fairmont City community will change lives. Most people don’t understand the difficulties for a foreign-born person when it comes to banking. It can be terrifying to even open a savings account for many of these people because of the language barrier. So, the Bank of Edwardsville taking the risk of investing in these people’s success and proudly offering the products and services that will most help them in their unique situation is truly remarkable.”
The bank’s decision to develop products and services and open a banking center that can meet the needs of the Hispanic population had the full backing of its board of directors from the beginning of the project more than two years ago.
“Our bank is, and has always been, community involved,” said Robert Plummer, Chairman of the bank’s Board of Directors. “Everyone in the bank, from the directors to the officers to the staff, has really been looking forward to this. We wanted to do this and we are going to work hard and bring every resource we have to make this a success. It’s part of who we are as a bank. We have such a dedicated staff that works every day to do what is right for the customer, and we truly appreciate being invited into Fairmont City to offer our services to the fine people of this great community.”
The full-service banking center offers retail services such as checking and savings accounts, mortgage loan products, commercial loan products and investment services. The hours of operation for its lobby are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. To contact the Fairmont City Center, call (618) 857-5400 or fax (618) 655-5670.